EC – Product Safety and Monitoring Proposal

Antonio Tajani and Tonio Borg present the new proposal in Brussels

Further to reports in PPD magazine and on this news site last year, The European Commission (EC) has proposed on the 13th of February new rules to improve the safety of consumer products circulating in the Single Market, as well as measures that will increase market surveillance concerning all non-food products, including those imported from third countries.

The new proposal is the key part of the EC’s “Product Safety and Market Monitoring Package“. The envisaged regulations pertain to consumer products that result from a manufacturing process (except for foodstuffs) and are to replace the guideline on general product safety, 2001/95/EG.

According to the EC, the outlined plans will contribute to the strengthening of consumer protection and create a level playing field for businesses operating around the continent.

“Unsafe products should not reach consumers or other users and their improved identification and traceability will be a key improvement that will help to take them quickly out of the market,” a statement from the EC read.

Once the measures have been approved and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council the new rules will be enforced by national market surveillance authorities within each of the 27 Member States. It is hoped that these countries will benefit from strengthened cooperation and enhanced tools to carry out controls.

European Commission vice-president Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, said that a set of high-quality rules and regulations concerning the safety of products need to be implemented if nations in Europe are to get the most out of operating in a single market.

“Better coordination of product safety checks, especially at the EU external borders, will eliminate unfair competition from dishonest or criminal rogue operators,” he concluded.

Tonio Borg, European commissioner for health and consumer policy also spoke on the creation of improved single-market measures, noting that consumers around Europe now expect products on the market to be safe.

“Businesses expect to operate under fair trading conditions. Authorities need the right tools to operate in an efficient and effective way. The package of proposals that the Commission adopted today aims at meeting these expectations. We are convinced that consumers, businesses and national authorities will greatly benefit from clear and consistent rules across the Single Market, more effective market surveillance and improved traceability of products.”

Two legislative proposals have been drafted and are complimented by a multi-annual plan for market surveillance setting out 20 concrete actions to be undertaken from now to 2015, which will improve market surveillance under the current regulatory framework and until the new rules come into effect.

Currently the rules in the EU that govern market monitoring and consumer product safety are fragmented and scattered throughout various pieces of legislation, which can create gaps and on some occasions overlaps, leading to sub-standard products being allowed into certain nations.

Some of the key changes outlined in the new proposals would see the alignment of the general obligations of economic operators to ensure the safety of all consumer products, as well as the detailing of clearer responsibilities for manufacturers, importers and distributors.

More effective tools to enforce safety and other product-related requirements will also be implemented, as well as the ability to take action against dangerous and non-compliant products across all sectors.

Improved traceability will also be a major factor when it comes to consumer products, with monitoring taking place throughout the supply chain. This will enable a rapid and effective response to any safety problems, with incidents such as product recalls being much easier to oversee and complete.

“To do that manufacturers and importers shall ensure that products bear an indication of the country of origin of the product or, where the size or nature of the product does not allow it, that indication is to be provided on the packaging or in a document accompanying the product,” an EC statement read.

If the country of origin is a member of the Union, the country of origin indicated on the product can either be listed as the EU or as the respective member state.

Further information and comment to follow.

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The full proposal is available HERE

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Antonio Tajani and Tonio Norg present the new proposal